European swallows have been a harbinger of spring since ancient times. Leaving their wintering grounds in South Africa in February each year, they arrive in Europe in April and May in search of insects and to mate and raise their young. Their arduous journey north takes them over the expanding Sahara Desert, across the Mediterranean Sea into parts of Europe.
The sweet and soft whistles of swallows have filled the early morning and the late afternoon skies as we travel across Italy. We are fortunate to be witness to large numbers of swallows that seem to be having a party high above our heads. Sitting outside and watching the aerial antics as they twist and turn in pursuit of flying insects fills us with awe. Their maneuverability is amazing as they swoop and turn high in the sky and dive gracefully over our heads.
The males arrive first in their European breeding grounds followed by females about two weeks later. After establishing a mating bond, they will begin building a mud nest or repairing their old one under eaves or under the first row of tiles on roofs.
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester